WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Bread for the World is disappointed by the breakdown in budget negotiations at the end of last week. With only a few days left before the end of the year, the country is on course to fall off the fiscal cliff, and Americans will face the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and over $100 billion in across-the-board cuts to many government programs.
"Thursday's events in the House of Representatives should not stop negotiations between President Obama and congressional leaders," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. "The need for our political leaders to come to the table and find common ground is more urgent than ever. We ask that our elected leaders bring the holiday spirit to their budget talks, discarding political posturing to find agreement."
House Speaker John Boehner pulled his H.J. Res. 66 ("Plan B") proposal from consideration on Thursday night. The proposal would have extended the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the first $1 million of income. Plan B ended important improvements to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), which keep millions of low-income working families out of poverty each year.
The proposal was accompanied by H.R. 6684 (the Spending Reduction Act of 2012), which cuts billions of dollars from anti-poverty programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and the Social Services Block Grant, which helps fund Meals on Wheels, child care for low-income families, and services for seniors and children who are victims of abuse or neglect. While Bread for the World opposes Plan B because of its impact on hungry and poor people, Congress' inability to reach a budget agreement before Christmas could have long-term implications for the country as well.
"A responsible deal will require painful decisions from all sides, including real tax increases and tough spending cuts to popular programs. A responsible deal will also protect our brothers and sisters suffering from hunger and poverty by contending with these ills in the United States and around the world," Beckmann continued. "As Jesus taught, we will be judged by how we treat the least of these. Our prayers are with President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and all members of Congress struggling to find a path forward."
Last week, members of the Circle of Protection, representing a broad spectrum of Christian leaders, released a set of principles regarding the ongoing budget negotiations at the edge of the fiscal cliff.
Rev. David Beckmann offered a prayer as the end of the year approaches: "Almighty and loving God, we pray for our nation. We are divided by ideology and interest groups. Our leaders find it difficult to make decisions together. We face pressing problems. Our economy is still fragile. But urgent questions go unresolved. We pray for the President and Congress as they continue to negotiate rules regarding taxes and government spending. Give them wisdom, a spirit of concord, and a shared sense of responsibility for hungry and poor people. Open doors to a solution that will serve the common good."
Bread for the World (www.bread.org) is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
SOURCE Bread for the World